1. A hero, fabled to have been the son of Jupiter and Alcmena, and celebrated for great strength, especially. For the accomplishment of his twelve great tasks or "labors."

2. <astronomy> A constellation in the northern hemisphere, near Lyra.

<zoology> Hercules' beetle, any species of Dynastes, an American genus of very large lamellicorn beetles, especially. D. Hercules of South America, which grows to a length of six inches. Hercules' club.

<botany> An ornamental tree of the West Indies (Zanthoxylum Clava-Herculis), of the same genus with the prickly ash. A variety of the common gourd (Lagenaria vulgaris). Its fruit sometimes exceeds five feet in length. The Angelica tree. See Angelica. Hercules powder, an explosive containing nitroglycerin; used for blasting.

(01 Mar 1998)

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